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Rhipsalidopsis or 'Easter Cactus' Growing Page


Rhipsalidopsis or Easter Cactus Growing Page

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Easter Cactus Culture

Rhipsalidopsis-Sym(Hatiora) are commonly called Easter Cactus or Spring Cactus as they tend to bloom in spring time. Easter Cactus blooms are numerous and have very vivid colors. There growing requirements and bloom times are very simular to Epiphyllum, but there segmented stem growth charecteristics and rooting process are simular to Christmas Cactus-(Schlumbergera).


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The colorfull hybrids of Rhipsalidopsis varieties were developed from species that origonated from the jungles in Brazil, Rhipsalidopsis species grow high up in the jungle canopy or in bolders/rocks close to steams and rivers so there cool jungle type plants. Rhipsalidopsis or Easter Cactus like rich well draining soil thats moist but also allowed to dry between waterings. Easter Cactus are adaptable to many climates if given some shade they will grow well in a wide temperature range so you dont nessarily need a perfectly simulated jungle habitat to grow them. Since Easter Cactus will grow in a wide temperature range of 35 to 100 degrees, they are adaptable to many growing conditions thru the seasons.

Rhipsalidopsis have a few basic requirements and this page will list all of them to help you have healthy and full blooming plants every season. Easter cactus are very easy to grow!

This page contains information about Rhipsalidopsis growing culture and care; water required, sunlight, when to trim, how much/often to fertilize, blooming habit/cycles, best growing temperatures that they prefer, how to root Rhipsalidopsis stem segments, how to grow Easter Cactus indoors as houseplants, Easter Cacti pests, Bacterial and fungal deseases specific to Easter Cactus and more!

Schlumbergera or Christmas Cactus have simular rooting requirements as Easter Cactus but bloom in different seasons. To learn about Schlumbergera care visit the Schlumbergera Growing Page by clicking the link below.




Rhipsalidopsis Species and Growth Characteristics

Theres two species of Rhipsalidopsis both origonate from Brazil, South America. There also pictured below. 1) Pictured far left; Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri syn; Hatiora gaertneri (Easter Cactus)-Has red to orangish large blooms and larger stem segments. 2) Pictured far right; Rhipsalidopsis rosea syn; Hatiora rosea (Easter Cactus)- Has small pink blooms and small stem segments. In the middle is a diagram of Rhipsalidopsis stem structure clearly showing the growth characteristics of all rhipsalidopsis with smooth stem segment edges, small hairs on stem tip and its naturally self branching form. Both of these species were crossed and re-crossed from those seedlings to create the many hybrids available today. The variation of hybrid Easter Cactus bloom colors are now very abundant. The first serious work into creating crosses of the two Rhipsalidopsis species was in the 1930s by Alfred Graser in Europe. Later these crosses were improved and expanded upon in the 1950s and 60s by Harry Johnson in Paramount, California USA. The growth of Rhipsalidopsis hybrids can be a mixture of the two species or is often very simular to one or the other. Most hybridization efforts has been focused to produce variations in the bloom color, its form and the bloom size of Rhipsalidopsis hybrid creations.

rhipsalidopsis  gaerteri easter cactus 3Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri Easter Cactusrhipsalidopsis rosea easter cactus2



Easter Cactus How much to Water?

How much to water your Easter Cactus depends on the time of year; Water well during the growing season March thru September in the Northern Hemishere and sparingly when semi-dormant October thru Febuary. Easter Cactus require good draining pots and prefer to be moist in the growing season but not standing in water or have wet feet. For established Rhipsalidopsis or Easter Cactus plants water when the top 1-1/2" of the soil is dry, 2 or 3 times a week. If the weather is extremely hot (over 80 degrees average) just mist the Easter Cacti plants stems in between waterings. During semi-dormanancy maybe water once a week depending on weather (if rain no water needed) and no misting is required since days are cooler or below 70-80 degrees. Overwatering can cause stems to get rot and encourage bacterial deseases discussed towards the end of this page. Try not to overwater them. Overwatering is the #1 killer of Easter Cactus!

rainbow
(Above pictured; Easter Cactus Hybrid 'RAINBOW')

How Much Sun Exposure Do Easter Cactus Like?

Easter Cactus like part shade to some full sun by coastal areas in zone 9A to 10. Ideal is 30% shade in summer but near cooler coastal locations 1/2 day of morning or afternoon sun is good for established Easter Cacti plants. Never expose rooting or newly rooted Easter Cactus to full sun, only established plants since without any extensive root structure present they are unable to draw up water from the soil for there water needs on hot days.

Indoors; Easter Cactus can be adapted to be grown indoors and a brightly lite window out of direct sunlight is best. If growing indoors remember Easter Cactus like a cool period October to Febuary to induce blooming so try to simulate those conditions if grown indoors. Athough the plant is resting and little growth emerges at this time bud formation is developing. This is called 'hardening off'.

What Soil Mix should Easter Cactus be Planted In?

Easter Cactus prefer rich well draining potting soil. Theres as many Rhipsalidopsis soil mixes as there are growers as each prefers there own recipes. Basically potting soil is normally used as a base of about 60-90% of the mix then perlite or other mediums can be added to assist with good drainage. Manure or peat can be added to provide rich food. Dont use Cactus type soil mixes although they drain well there not rich enough. Many variations can make good soil mix for Easter Cactus see our 'Soil Mix Page' to give you a better idea of soil mix recipes that are well suited for growing Rhipsalidopsis. We use recipe #1 listed there but remove some orchid bark and on occasion add peat moss or extra perlite depending on the time of year.

New cuttings; Prefer even more porous soil mix so add a bit more perlite or sand to aid in draining away any excess moisture during the rooting process. Once Easter Cactus are rooted transplant them to a richer soil mix.

Notes; Remember Rhipsalidopsis should never be planting in the ground. Easter Cactus are Jungle Cacti-(Epiphytes) and there species came from high rainfall areas but Easter Cactus in there natural habitat grow in the branches of trees or between rocks/bolders etc. Large trees nearby would shed leaves around them along with birds nesting in the trees providing droppings. So Rhipsalidopsis prefer a rich soil but with a very loose and airy soil mix. Some may say but mine do fine in the ground? Well they might for one summer season if its rich soil, then when winter rains come theres no way for excess water to drain away and rot will set in. Never plant Easter Cactus in the ground!

When Do You Repot Rhipsalidopsis ?

Repot your Easter Cactus using fresh soil mix at least once a year to have deep green sturdy stem growth followed by several large bloom displays. Repotting should be done in mid-late Summer to Fall right after blooming has finished. If your Easter Cactus looks to have bad color in between this time repot it, repotting usually cures many ailments such as bacteria or muck in the bottom of the pots there planted in. At a minimum you Easter Cactus should be repotted at least once a year.

What Type Of Pots Are Used ?

Plastic or ceramic pots can be used for Easter Cactus. If using plastic they tend to breath less but are more practical to hang than ceramic so adjust your watering if your using plastic pots or plastic hanging baskets. Ceramic pots (unglazed) can be even more porous than plastic and may need more frequent waterings since they tend to dry out more often. If you live in a high humidity location ceramic pots maybe a better choice. I grow Rhipsalidopsis in both but prefer ceramic for larger established plants since i'm located very close to the ocean where humidity is higher than inland areas most of the year. Pots should also be selected to match stem growth. Rhipsalidopsis can be more upright than Christmas Cacti and most varieties are semi-pendulous in growth habit so hanging baskets are a good choice. Ground type pots can be used also but select tall type forms so the stems can hang down freely or place a pot thats not very tall (or deep) on a plant stand. As an example below Rhipsalidopsis hybrid 'RIO' has a pot turned upside down as a plant stand, lifting its stems from touching the ground. Allowing stems to touch the ground will be like giving bad bugs a latter and welcome mat to attack your Easter Cactus. Also the stems can possibly be damaged by scrapping or even be stepped on.

Visit our plastic pot section to see how large the drain holes are, CERAMIC pots should have simular drain holes. We dont offer ceramic pots due to heavy shipping costs/possible breakage in shipping, but many are available at your local garden centers. Also use something to lift all pots from the ground be it pot feet, a plant stand, another pot turned upside down or use our plastic pots to make a hanging basket plant instead. Remember to always provide GOOD DRAINAGE! GOOD DRAINAGE! GOOD DRAINAGE! Most first time Easter and Christmas Cactus growers fail because this is not provided and they become water logged or overwatered. I can not stress GOOD DRAINAGE! Enough.


rio
(Above pictured Rhipsalidopsis hybrid 'RIO')

Should Easter Cactus Stems be trimmed?

Yes when there repotted. Athough some Rhipsalidopsis growers prefer not to trim we recommend it to give the plant a full even shape and to encourage multiplication of new stem growth. Overall even health of all stems will also be improved with yearly trimming. Trimming will help to achieving a nice layered form, by layering your Easter Cactus all stem tips can reach adaquate sunlight producing larger bloom displays just like the one pictured above. When to trim; Trim your Rhipsalidopsis when you do yearly repot and if upsizing the pot, adding more starts in a circle around the main plant(s). More stems means more blooms!

Each Rhipsalidopsis stem you trim will multiply by itself branching into 2 or up to 5 more on average new stems. Each stem will bloom with one or more blooms from each stem tip. If theres 100 stem tips you can get 200 to 300 blooms or more. Always cut Easter Cactus at a joint where it goes narrow again. Most will not require any tool as they can be snapped off easily at the joint with just finger/hand presure only. Have sharp scissors ready for the ones that snap mid point to re-cut those stem segments cleanly at the stem joints.

When not to trim Easter Cactus; Right before bloom season which although they may bloom spring thru summer bud developement on Easter Cactus starts before that time in January (Northern Hemisphere). If you trim at this time you will be removing future blooms for the coming season. That doesnt mean you can not remove a damaged stem at this time in the season or take a few cuttings to share with a friend. Even abnormal growth can be removed. Just dont give your Easter Cactus any major trimming/layering like mentioned in the above paragraph since bloom time is close, something to keep in mind.

Easter Cactus Temps

Rhipsalidopsis temperatures for growth; Easter Cactus prefer an average temperature range in spring/summer of 65 to 85 degrees for the best growth. Although ideal growing temperatures are 70s Easter Cactus can grow in a wide range from 35 to 100 degrees. Some wilting of stems may occur above 90 degrees so on hot summer days keep them cooler by placing in more shade and misting on abnormally hot summer days especially if temps reach 100 degrees.

NOTES; Easter Cactus can go over 100 degrees for a few days in summer heat without much harm, but as there cool jungle cacti wilting will occur. They may seem to want water at this time but try to resist watering too much, only mist the stems to cool them down or move to a more shady cooler spot. Once the temperatures cool below 85-90 degrees they pop back imeadiately.

Easter Cactus winter temperatures for growth and bud developement; Contrary to what is written on many websites and blogs Rhipsalidopsis seldom go completly dormant they will be semi-dormant with some growth during winter but its very slow when temperatures drop below 65 degrees and almost zero growth below 45 degrees. In the months from October to January (Northern Hemisphere) Temps below 60 degrees down to 35 degrees will help to harden off stems to help produce more flower buds. Easter Cactus enjoy these lower temperatures and although theres little growth bud developement begins at this time. Below 32 degrees and they can perish due to frost so either bring indoors or provide protection.

How To Root Easter Cactus

Rhipsalidopsis are rooted by individual segments or up to 2 or 3 segments on one individual main stem. A single segment or the bottom Easter Cactus stem segment is then placed into soil mix a few days after cutting. The segment should be placed 1/2 way into the soil mix and the stem misted only, you do not water the soil mix until roots are present about 2-5 weeks depending on time of the year. Rhipsalidopsis are rooted identically as Schlumbergera are. To see how Christmas Cactus are rooted theres a video below to assist you. Also a link below to the Schlumbergera Page which has step by step pictures and instructions of how to root segmented stemmed Holiday Cactus.




Holiday Cactus Fungus and Bacterial Type Rots

1) Drechslera Cladophyll Rot Rhipsalidopsis are very susceptible to Drechslera leaf spot Rot and Schlumbergera to a lesser degree. The tail tale signs of Drechslera Cladophyll stem segment rot are circular black sunken lesions which appear on the cladophylls. The lesions begin to look fuzzy as the black spores of the Drechslera fungus grow. There is no guaranteed cure for this disease which was first documented in the 1950s. Some controls to slow or remove the desease are spraying and drenching with chlorothalonil can be very effective in controlling the disease. Use with caution since it has been shown to cause slight chlorosis occasionally. Mancozeb (Dithane T and O) is labeled for some plants and may also aid in disease control. Repotting into fresh soil mix after treatment is also recommended.

erwinia soft rot schlumbergera

2) Erwinia Soft Rot Erwinia Soft Rot causes wet slimy black lesions on Easter Cacti. The disease begins at the soil line and advances to the top of the cladophyll or upper portions of the stem . There is no treatment for this bacterial disease and affected plants will wilt and die. Due to production of a special enzyme, infected Schlumbergera and Easter Cacti plants become very mushy and disintegrate especially during the warmer months of the year when warm humidity is higher. Water left on stems accelerates this disease so try to water sparingly and in early morning hours so any excess water on stems evaporates before nightfall. Quarantine any infected plants away from others so not to spread this disease. Restarting the plant from less infected stems is advisable. If the disease is more advanced removal of the infected plant is best. Use of bactericides on plants infected with Erwinia spp. is rarely effective. Most cacti and succulents will die if infected with Erwinia spp. so prevention is the key to control. Try not to over water that only invites this disease to infect your plants.

pythium or phytophora rot

3) Pythium root rot on Easter cactus Pathogen-(Pythium spp., Phytophora) Foliage of Easter Cacti plants infected with Pythium spp. turns a dull gray-green and may wilt. This disease is typically more common with Schlumbergera. Stems become rotted at the soil line and upper portions of the plant collapse. The stems seem to be wilting and lacking water but the soil mix is actually overwatered. Cladophyll abscission may occur. Roots are darkened and mushy and lack full developement. Always use pathogen-free clean pots and potting media and grow plants lifted off the ground. Over watering plants is only an invitation of attack by root-rotting fungi. Soil drenches with the combination of etridiazol and thiophanate methyl (Banrot), etridiazol (Truban and Terrazole formulations) or metalaxyl can slow or prevent the plant from dying. Schlumbergera and Rhipsalidopsis can contract this disease but most cacti and succulents can also be infected with Pythium spp. especially if they are over watered or planted in poorly draining potting soil mix.



Easter Cactus Pests

Rhipsalidopsis have few pests problems. Snails and slugs can occasionally attack along with mealy bugs but you may encounter on occasion some other pests that are listed on the 'Pest Page'. Click the link below to see the complete pest list on the 'Jungle Cacti Pest Page'



rosea Easter Cactus
( Above pictured is Rhipsalidopsis Rosea a smaller stemmed/blooming variety of Easter Cacti)

How and When to Fertilize Easter Cactus

Easter Cactus like a well balanced but higher Nitrogen based fertilizer of NPK 10-10-5 or simular during the growing season begining in late Febuary to September. Fertilize every 3 to 4 weeks during the growing season. Foliar spraying is best. Always wash off fertilizer left on the stems a few hours after applying or sooner if a hot sunny day.

Bloom fertilizers can also be used begining in January (Northern Hemisphere) thru the end of bloom time. Formulas of NPK 0-10-10 for smaller less established plants or higher formulas for larger well established plants can be used. Bloom fertilizer will give the plant larger, more numerous and add more color to the Rhipsalidopsis blooms.

To see different fertilizers formulas we offer click the link below. Many of these formulas are also available at local garden centers. The formula numbers recommended here do not have to be exactly the same but only close. Even higher nitrogen formulas if thats all thats available can be used, just dilute in half the recommended mix with water. So a N-21 could be used in half doze to make a N-10.


NOTE; All season long granulars types either temperature or moisture activated can also be used. Such as Osmicote or Peter's all season long. If your humidity/rainfall is high use a temperature activated variety. If in a dry climate moisture activated, otherwise most of the fertilizer will just be going down the drain. Its not recommended to use Nitrogen based fertilizers on Easter Cactus if average temp are below 70 degrees since Nitrogen will not be taken up in cooler weather effeciantly. It will aid in giving some growth possibly but most will just be washed away when it rains or you water.

Easter Cactus Grown Indoors

Easter Cactus can be grown indoors as houseplants by a kitchen window or simular that provides bright but indirect light. Watering should be given only when the top 1-1/2" of the soil dries out. Use of water trays is fine but lift the pot slightly from the tray with small blocks so its not ever sitting in water. Some indoor locations may require that you turn or rotate your Rhipsalidopsis plant for even light distribution. Easter Cactus can also be grown under artificial light with success just be sure theres also adaquate airflow provided. Unlike Schlumbergera which if grown indoors only lower light levels will induce blooming. Easter Cactus require a cool rest period to incourage blooming. If grown indoors move to a spot where this can be done. Leaving a window slightly ajar nearby or a cooler spot of the house will often suffice.

NOTES: Indoor pests-If your growing indoors snails and slugs and many other pests will not be a problem. Keep an eye out instead for Thrips and Spider Mites since your warm inside conditions are ideal for there reproduction of 70 degrees. See the 'Jungle Pest Page' for remedies and a full pest list.


( Below for your enjoyment is a slideshow of a few varieties offered at Mattslandscape.com)

Easter Cactus Blooming Habits/Cycles

Easter Cactus bloom in spring hence there nickname 'Spring Cactus'. The blooming process actually starts a few months before blooms or even buds are noticable usually in January. Buds begin forming in January on most varieties after the cool winter rest period has ended. Although there barely noticable you may notice stem tips getting hardened stem tips, thats a sign that those stems are hardened from the cool winter and they will produce Easter Cactus buds that are noticable very soon. Giving bloom fertilizer in January every 10-14 days as a foliar spray will assist bud formation during this time. Continue the bloom fertilizer until the last blooms are done. The bloom period is from March to September, with April or May being the peak bloom time. Some varieties bloom early others late. Many Rhipsalidopsis can bloom several times in mass it just depends on your weather. Warm weather they develope faster so if spring is very cool you will get Easter Cactus blooms on your plant later, but then get another set possibly in summer. If Spring is hot Rhipsalidopsis will bloom early then again maybe a month later, then a third or even fourth time mid to late summer.





easter cactus sirus
( Pictured Above Rhipsalidopsis Hybrid 'SIRUS')



With so many Epiphyllum, Schlumbergera and Rhipsalidopsis varieties, several other types of plants and more added every day heres an easy to use search box for your convienance to find the many plant varieties on the Mattslandscape.com website


Once you grow Easter Cactus plants for a short while, you will realize how easy they are to care for.
Should you have any questions or difficulty growing just e-mail us.













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